Monday, February 15, 2010

Redering problems not so much solved as vamoosed!

Ah ... that's more like it! The rendering problems of yesterday just vanished, leaving 3D art as a smooth process with gorgeous results, which is what I've come to expect. I realize I'm spoiled rotten: everything fell into place for me, with DAZ Studio 3. Something "clicked," and I was just doing this, without the blood, sweat and tears...

Mind you, there was still plenty to learn, and the learning process hasn't stopped. It's not likely to stop any time soon! But you can see how complex the renders are getting lately ... and the fact is, I don't have time to work long on them, so I'm always looking for ways to do things quickly...

And I just found something out. Serendipity! I think I've been "doing this backwards." I've been working up the character and then building the scene around him ... and, DAZ being DAZ, you can get up to 15 software crashes before you get the image finished! This time around I was working with all the odds and sods needed to build a ruined temple in a woodland glade, with a model sitting on a fallen column ... and I managed to get the image without a software crash. Not one crash. What did I do differently?

I built the set FIRST, and then imported the model. The software romped it, and the processors (there are four in this chassis, and at 2.35G each, they're not puny, even though new computers are getting sooooo much faster!) just handled the work they were asked to do.

So, the first thing was: get the idea. This is an idea for a scene which I had yesterday, but I had a problem with a dithering pattern showing up in the models. (Go back to yesterday to see what I mean. It was weird.) Anyway, today the dithering pattern just didn't show up, and I think it might have been a question of just rebooting the system. Total shut down, hard start, try again. Today ... welll, I expected a wrestling match, but I didn't get one!

So I was able to imagine a scene and build it. And the "set" is so important to this scene, for the first time ever I actually built the set first and then worried about the model. If you've been following this blog, you know that there are oooodles of glorious young males models who could have been recruited to appear in this production. That was the least of my concerns! So...

A couple of weeks ago I got the EROC construction set, which is a load of columns and textures and beams and ... everything you need to build a Greek or Roman temple. They just come unassembled, you have to put it together yourself. I started with the Backdrop Easy model, set it up with an old stone wall ... made it low; set the ground to kind of marble flagstones; then brought in several columns ... made one fall over ... set all the textures ... brought in some of the environment props from the Cyclorama kit (free with DAZ Studio 3 -- hunt around; if you have DAZ, you have this).

Then I needed a background, so I looked through my images and found a woodland trail at Belair National park. Sized it to 1000x800, softened it down, brought it in as the scene's backdrop. Then ... set up the lights and turn on the Deep Shadow Map.

That was the moment I kind of held my breath, because I was really worried I'd see this ugly dither pattern right through the render, but ... no pattern! (Have a look at the image below in full size -- I uploaded it large. so you can see it properly.)

Then, it was just a question of bringing in the model and posing him. The version of Michael 4 I wound up choosing is one of my favorites among my own characters. You know him as the Vampire Amadeus. Beautiful! The pose is fairly simple, but made really effective because of the camera angles...

Phew! That's more like it ... 3D art as it ought to be.

Jade, 16 February
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